Book Review: “A Dark and Hollow Star” by Ashley Shuttleworth

“Heroes went through so much hardship. Heroes were the stuff of tragedies.”

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.

A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.

A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.

The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.

For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

I went into this book with tempered expectations. I’ve tried all the popular fae books and none of them have quite done it for me. Plus, the older I get, the less YA books connect with me. So I read this book hoping to love it, but not expecting anything. And, ultimately, I think that really benefited my reading experience.

Sure, the world-building is a bit muddled. It combines fae lore, Greek mythology, and alchemy, and turns them into a whole new beast that I’m still not sure I fully comprehend. But I kind of don’t care. The fact that the world-building is jam-packed with fantasy concepts from all over added to the excitement of the story.

I love all our main characters. Arlo is a bit of a grower, but I really learned to appreciate her. Vehan has a heart of gold and I loved him immediately. Aurelian is closed off, but loyal. Nausicaä is my favorite. She’s so funny and chaotic. I have a feeling she won’t be for everyone, but she’s definitely for me.

That said, if you’re going into this book looking for romance, you have to have patience. The relationships are in the very early stages here. Vehan and Aurelian are both secretly in love with each other, each assuming it’s unrequited. There’s also an element of forbidden romance there. Arlo and Nausicaä have more of a flirtationship at this stage, but it’ll definitely progress into more in future installments. And hey, at least both relationships are queer!

The settings were also really cool. The entire story takes place in Toronto and Las Vegas. It really makes the story stand out because few urban fantasies take place in those locations. I’ve actually been to Vegas and a couple of the locations there mentioned, which was dope. I haven’t had that experience before.

But the main reason I loved this book so much? I had a lot of fun reading it. It reminded me of reading books like Vampire Academy or The Mortal Instruments for the first time, but updated for a modern audience. So is A Dark and Hollow Star perfect? No. Do I love it anyway? Absolutely.

If you’re looking for a queer fae story or just a fun time, I highly recommend A Dark and Hollow Star. I’m really excited to see how Shuttleworth further explores alchemy and the romantic relationships. They really created something special here and I hope more people pick up this amazing novel. And when you find out what the title means? You’ll have stars in your eyes.

Lesbian MC, questioning (later to be confirmed pansexual, per the author) MC, gay MC, bisexual MC, & 2 genderfluid/non-binary side characters (OwnVoices)

Anger, arson, blood/gore, body horror (minor), death of a child, depression, disownment, divorce, drug use/addiction, grief/grieving, human trafficking, poverty, psychopathy, stalking, suicide (past, off-page), suicide ideation, toxic relationship/manipulation, trauma/PTSD, racism, & violence/gun violence

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: “A Dark and Hollow Star” by Ashley Shuttleworth

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